Mon, Oct 03, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Hualien bears brunt of Typhoon Longwang's fury

BY JEAN LIN AND JENNY CHOU  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A sedan car lies upside-down on top of a mini van on the side of a road yesterday in Hualien after Typhoon Longwang lashed the city.

PHOTO: YU TAI-LANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Typhoon Longwang crept away yesterday after pounding the nation with heavy winds and rain, cutting off power for hundreds of thousands, destroying buildings, injuring more than a hundred people and killing one man in Hualien.

The 60-year-old man died in a hospital from injuries sustained when his home collapsed.

The center of the typhoon left the nation yesterday morning at around 10am as the storm moved northwest toward China.

But the outskirts lingered, bringing rainfall to the entire country before subsiding in the evening.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was flying home after a whirlwind trip to Central America and the United Arab Emirates, was diverted to Bali because of the storm.

Longwang -- Mandarin for "dragon king" -- made landfall near Hualien at 5:15am yesterday morning, packing winds up to 230kph, comparable to those of Hurricane Katrina.

The east coast city took a beating from the storm. Blackouts left more than 100,000 without power, rooftops were ripped away, cars and motorcycles were tossed about like toys and six homes were leveled.

One hundred people were evacuated from three villages near Hualien after strong tides came in. The Terrace at the Martyr's Shrine collapsed, destroying a landmark which has existed for more than 30 years. The windows of the China Trust Hotel were smashed to pieces by high winds.

Damage was less severe in other parts of the nation. But more than 100,000 homes in Taichung and 10,000 homes in Ilan were also left without power.

In Kaohsiung, winds ripped a slab of concrete off a building and wedged it into a high-rise apartment.

In Taipei, conditions were relatively calm. Hardest-hit were likely the city government's phone lines, as Taipei citizens made a record number of telephone calls to the city to find out whether work would go on as usual yesterday.

Trains resume

In Taitung, all flights and trains were cancelled yesterday. But train services elsewhere in the country were back to normal by 3pm.

Some domestic flights resumed schedule beginning at 4pm.

In Madou (麻豆) Township, conditions were calm despite extensive preparations made by residents who were severely affected by the last three typhoons.

"We are now numb against the effects of typhoons because we are so used to them," one resident said.

The weather affected traffic, and may have played a role in two major accidents yesterday that resulted in several casualties. In Chiayi, a truck and a bus collided, injuring 16. The passengers were mostly middle-aged Taipei or Taoyuan residents on their way to visit a Matsu temple.

On provincial highway 16 a coach carrying 15 Chinese tourists crashed into a telephone pole, sending 11 to the hospital with injuries.

Vegetable prices

In Yunlin County, prices of leafy vegetables tripled their normal prices, while prices of melons and other fruits remained stable and green onions actually dropped to between NT$150 and NT$170 per kilogram.

Land and sea warnings in the eastern part of the country and a land warning in the north were lifted last night. Both the land and sea warnings are expected to be completely lifted early this morning after Longwang leaves the Kinmen and Matsu area. School and work will resume as usual.

Originally a strong typhoon with two centers, the storm's centers merged into one giant eye with an 80km diameter.

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